The European Economic Area (EEA) is a free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries: Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Joining the EEA allows these countries to participate in the EU`s single market without being full members of the EU. In this article, we will dive deeper into the EEA agreement and its members.
Firstly, it`s crucial to understand what the EEA agreement means for its members. The EEA agreement was established in 1994 and came into force in 1995. It aims to extend the EU`s single market and its four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, people, and capital – to the EFTA countries. This means that these countries have access to the single market and must accept the EU`s rules on product standards, competition, consumer protection, and social and environmental protection.
The EEA agreement ensures equal treatment between EU member states and the EFTA countries in terms of trade and competition. The agreement also facilitates cooperation in several areas, such as research and development, education, and social policy. In addition, it provides for the EU and EFTA countries to adopt joint decisions on key issues affecting the single market.
Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are currently the only EEA agreement members. However, Switzerland was also a member until 1992, when it decided not to pursue further integration with the EU. Switzerland currently has a series of bilateral agreements with the EU, which provide access to the single market in specific sectors.
Despite not being full members of the EU, the EFTA countries still contribute to the EU budget through the EEA Financial Mechanism. This mechanism allows them to finance projects that contribute to reducing economic and social disparities in Europe.
In conclusion, the EEA agreement is an essential framework for cooperation between the EU and the EFTA countries. It ensures access to the single market and facilitates cooperation in several areas. Although the EFTA countries are not full EU members, they still play a significant role in shaping the European economy.